Man's Being, His Destiny and World Evolution
5. Man's Being, His Destiny and World Evolution, Part 2
20 May 1923, Oslo
We cannot fully estimate the nature of man's being, as it appears at present, without fixing our eyes on extended periods through which he has passed in the course of his evolution. This will become evident when considering the facts described by me during recent days. Our souls undergo repeated earth-lives that are always separated from one another by the life between death and a new birth. In this manner our souls have passed through the most manifold periods of human evolution. By reflecting on these things, we shall clearly recognize that the nature of the human being can be comprehended only when we consider extended periods during which our souls have repeatedly lived on earth.
These matters have been discussed by me in previous Kristiania (Oslo) lectures, dealing with the sequence of evolutionary epochs, such as those that preceded and those that followed the Mystery of Golgotha. Today I wish to discuss this subject from a particular standpoint.
Mankind has undergone great changes in the course of its evolution. This fact is not sufficiently appreciated. People know that a Greek period existed, an Egyptian period, and other earlier periods. But, although they are aware of evolving culture-impulses, they believe that human beings in regard to their soul-life were just the same (at least, in historic ages) as they are today. This is not true. At a certain stage we come to a stop in this historic retrospect. We come to a long pause leading to a period which present-day scientists are very fond of describing as that of man's supposedly ape-like ancestors.
Mankind's evolution, however, was not in the least as people now imagine it. In order to understand the changes it has undergone, let us envisage the relatively great dependency, existing in the present age during the human being's first years of life, of the spirit and soul organism on the physical-bodily one.
You need only to consider the stage of early childhood until the change of teeth, and the extensive transformation accompanying the change of teeth which must strike every unprejudiced observer. The child's entire soul-constitution becomes different. We then find another life period lasting until puberty. We all know that at this age the development of spirit and soul is dependent on the development of the body. And, if we observe these things without prejudice, we notice the same dependence of spirit and soul on the body also at a later age lasting until the twenties, although today, in the time of youth movements (this is not said in a critical sense) it is just the young people who do not like to emphasize this dependence. Naturally, they consider themselves, at sixteen or seventeen, fully developed young women and young men; and those vaunting unusual mental faculties write newspaper articles at twenty-one. These young people would thus like to hush up the fact that their spirit and soul is greatly dependent on their bodily organism. At any rate, the present-day human being becomes more or less independent of the body once he has reached a certain age. A man in his twenties is an adult who does not feel himself as dependent upon his body as would a child were it to pass in full consciousness through the stages between change of teeth and puberty.
There was still a feeling in comparatively recent ages that the human being matured gradually. It was then clearly realized that the so-called apprentice had to be treated differently from the journey-man; and a master's rank could not be attained until relatively late in life.
As regards present-day man, however, it can be asserted that after a certain age, his spirit and soul are no longer greatly dependent on his body. Of course, on reaching a venerable age, we notice a renewed dependence on our physical organism. When the legs become shaky, when the face becomes wrinkled, when the hair becomes grey, we cannot then deny the influence of the body. This, however, is not ascribed to a genuine parallelism of body and soul. People of today feel that, even though the bodily forces decline, soul and spirit remain, and must remain, more or less independent of the bodily-physical. Yet this was not always the case. If we go back to earlier epochs of mankind's evolution, we find the human being even in his old age remaining as intensely dependent on his body as does a child's soul today remain dependent on its body between the change of teeth and puberty. And if we are enabled — not by external history, but by spiritual science — to go back to the first period of evolution after the great Atlantean catastrophe which caused a new configuration of the earth's continents, we come to what I called in my Occult Science the primeval Indian epoch. The human being then felt himself, even after having reached his fifties, to be just as dependent on the physical as the child's soul is dependent on the change of teeth, and the youthful person's soul on puberty. This means: Just as we experience today during childhood the ascending line of growth, so ancient man experienced, in his fifties, the descending line within spirit and soul. Then things happened in such a way that a man, on reaching his fifties, matured inwardly just by becoming older, in a similar manner as modern man matures on attaining puberty. And at that time, seven or eight thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha, human beings eagerly looked forward, during their whole life, to this stage of existence. For everyone could say to himself: Something will be revealed to me out of my bodily constitution that I could not experience in younger years, before I became forty-nine or fifty. Naturally, such an idea is bound to shock modern men most profoundly. You only need to think of a present-day man who is absolutely sure of being a finished product after reaching the twenties. What could be said if he had to wait until the age of maturity revealed something to him which he could not know before, which he could not feel, and experience before!
In ancient India, however, man's bodily constitution enabled him to feel, already in his fifties, something like a gradual separation of the physical body from spirit and soul. He felt more and more how the physical approximated, as it were, the corpse-like. And he felt in this estrangement of the physical body, in this approach of the physical body to the earth-elements, a liberation of spirit and soul. By considering the body merely as a garment, he felt its relationship to the earth, to all that would belong to earth after death. It was less amazing to ancient than to modern men that the body had to be discarded, delivered to the earth-forces. For ancient man passed slowly and gradually through this process of discarding the body.
This sounds paradoxical, because it implies the terrifying conception of having a physical body that is slowly becoming a corpse. Ancient man, however, did not think of his body as a burdensome object passing, as it were, into a kind of putrefaction. Instead, he thought of it as an independent sheath or shell which, even though becoming earth-like, was yet full of life. Yet the physical body, at the age of fifty, assumed a sheath-like, shell-like character.
This gradual becoming similar to the earth taught ancient man something that can be known today only through abstract science. The inner nature of metals, for instance, became known to him. At the age of fifty, he was instinctively able to differentiate between copper, silver, and gold. He felt the resemblance of these metals to his own organism gradually turning to earth. A rock-crystal called forth in him other feelings than furrowed soil. By aging, man gained wisdom concerning terrestrial matters.
This fact influenced primeval civilization. The young, looking up to the old, said to themselves: These ancients are wise. Once I have become as old as they are, I shall also be wise. Such an attitude caused a profound veneration and a tremendous respect for old age.
In those ancient days of mankind's evolution (the epoch of primeval India), a lofty civilization, connected with a wondrous veneration, a wondrous respect for old age, existed in a certain part of the world (not in that part, however, inhabited by men with receding foreheads, such as are excavated today by anthropologists). And we must ask ourselves: How did it actually happen that men passed through these experiences?
It did happen, because primeval man lived less intensively in his physical body than we do. Today man crawls into the very core of his physical body, the experiences of which he shares. Thus he feels himself to be identical, at one with his physical body. And we must undergo a common destiny with whatever is felt to be at one with us. Because, in those ancient times, men felt themselves more self-dependent within the physical body; because their thinking was more imaginative; because their feeling was like an inward weaving and living in the world of reality — for all these reasons their physical body from the beginning seemed to them like a sheath in which they were encased. This sheath began to harden as life drew near its end. A man in his fifties could feel how the body developed increasingly in accord with the outer world, thus becoming a mediator that could instill in him wisdom concerning the outer world.
The situation changed when civilized mankind of those days passed into the next age, called by me in my Occult Science the primeval Persian. Then a man in his fifties could no longer experience this dependence of his physical body upon the earthly. Instead, the aging physical body exerted a different influence on those still in their forties, from the forty-second or forty-third year to the forty-ninth or fiftieth. During these years, they participated intensively in the change of seasons. They experienced spring, summer, autumn, winter within their body. As it were, their body began to bud and blossom during spring and summer, and went into decline during autumn and winter. Human life took part in the seasons, the changing air-currents ...
And this perception of the changing air-currents, the changing seasons, was connected with another thing. Man felt that his speech was being transformed into something no longer belonging essentially to him. Just as the primeval Indian felt that, once he had attained the fifties, his whole physical body did not really belong to him, but more or less to the earth, so the primeval Persian felt that the body, by producing speech, belonged to the people around him. At fifty, a member of primeval Indian culture no longer said: I am walking. If expressing his own feelings, he would say: My body is walking. He did not say: I enter through the door; but instead: My body carries me through the door. For he experienced his body as something related to the outer world, to the earth. And, five or six millennia before the Mystery of Golgotha, a member of the Persian civilization felt that speech came forth by itself, that he had it in common with his whole surroundings. At that time, people all over the world did not live in such an international way as today, but as members of definite folk communities. They felt how speech became alienated from them; how, if expressing their real feelings, they could say: “It is speaking within me.”
It was really the case that people after attaining the forties expressed the following in a certain, very respectful sense: Divine-spiritual forces are speaking through me. And the human being also felt as if his breath did not belong to him any longer, but was dedicated to the surrounding world.
On reaching his late thirties, a member of the Egypto-Chaldaean culture — which lasted from the third or fourth millennium until the eighth or ninth pre-Christian century — had a similar feeling with regard to his thoughts, his mental images. The Egyptian or Chaldaean felt in his thirty-fifth year as if his mental images were connected with heavenly forces, the course of the stars.
As the primeval Indian, at the end of his life, felt the connection of his body with the earth, as the primeval Persian felt the connection of his speech, his breath, with the seasons and the surrounding world, so a member of ancient Egyptian, of ancient Chaldaean culture felt that his thoughts were directed by the course of the stars. And he felt how divine star-powers were interwoven with his thoughts.
In Egypto-Chaldaean culture, the human being felt this dependence of his thoughts upon heavenly powers until his forty-second or forty-third year. Subsequently no new element entered into human development. The primeval Persian, too, felt as if his thoughts had been given to him by the stars; but he attained, moreover, in his forties the relationship to speech that I have described. Likewise, the primeval Indian, from his thirty-fifth year, possessed this relationship to the star-powers. Therefore he considered astrology as something self-evident. In his forties, he also attained the dependence of speech upon his surroundings. In his fifties, moreover, he experienced how his physical body became objective, became shadow-like. He accustomed himself, as it were, to the dying, because dying had approached him already in his fifties. The soul was less firmly joined to the body. Hence outer conditions could bring forth these bodily changes. This fact was perceived by the soul, experienced by the soul. And thereby man, as he grew older, merged himself more and more with the world.
Then came the Graeco-Latin era, which lasted from the eighth pre-Christian century until the fifteenth post-Christian century, for until then, the echo of Graeco-Latin culture still resounded in all civilized countries. This marked the age when man felt himself until his thirties still dependent upon his physical body, but no longer dependent on the stars, the seasons, the earth. He felt himself firmly entrenched within his physical body. The Greek felt a concord, a harmony between the soul and spirit element and the bodily-physical. Only this bodily-physical element no longer separated itself from him. This is all very difficult to express, for we are prevented, by the customary and totally inadequate historical teaching given to us in school, from forming a conception of these changes in mankind's evolution.
There then came the time when the human being became connected with his physical body in such a way that his physical body was committed no longer to participate in the course of the universe directed by spiritual laws. Now man was completely bound to his physical body. Mankind did not reach this stage until the eighth pre-Christian century.
Thus a great transformation of mankind's whole evolution occurred in as far as it concerned civilized mankind. Although the human being on reaching the thirties felt himself still at one with his physical body, he no longer was separated from it. He felt himself united with his physical body. It could no longer unveil to him the world's mysteries. During this period, therefore, mankind attained an entirely new relation to death. At an earlier time, when the human being prepared himself for dying, as it were, by undergoing a separation from his physical body, this dying signified for him nothing but a transformation in the midst of life; for, in his fifties, he became familiar gradually with the process of dying. He experienced dying as a process which merged him, in a wisdom-filled and blissful way, with the universe. He experienced death as something guiding him into a world in which he had already lived during his earth-life. Death at that time was something entirely different from what it became later. It might be said: More and more the human being was confronted by the possibility that soul and spirit might participate in death.
Let us compare Hellenism with the primeval Indian epoch. In primeval India, the body gained independence. The individual was aware of being something else besides his body which became independent and sheath-like. He could not have possibly conceived the thought that death might be the end. Such a thought did not exist among human beings of the primeval Indian period. Only by degrees, and most decisively in the eighth pre-Christian century, did man say to himself (still out of an unconscious feeling, because he was unable to think about these things in a rationalistic way): My body dies; but, with regard to soul and spirit, I am at one with my body. No longer did he notice the difference between the bodily and the spirit and soul element.
The human being became dominated by a thought that terrified him when it first arose out of dark spiritual depths in the ninth or eighth century before the Mystery of Golgotha. It was the thought: Might not my soul pursue the same path as my body — die, as my body dies?
This thought which in the primeval Indian epoch would have been totally inconceivable now came more and more to the fore. Out of this mood emerged words like those famous ones of the Greek hero: Better a beggar in the upper world than a king in the realm of the shades.
This was the time when mankind nurtured a mood that grew in the right way towards the Mystery of Golgotha. For, what brought forth in ancient human beings the ability to preserve a freshness of soul which made it impossible for them to conceive that the soul might take the same path of death as the body?
This freshness of soul, this independence of soul with regard to feeling, was given to ancient man by this knowledge: I have had a life — for he could look into this life — which was pre-earthly; through it I passed with my soul and spirit before I descended to the physical world. While dwelling in this higher world, I was united with the exalted Sun-Being.
The ancient Mysteries had evolved a teaching which pointed out that man, in his pre-earthly existence, was united with the spirit of the sun, just as in earth-life his body is united with the physical light of the sun.
The teachers in the ancient Mysteries told the following to their pupils who, in their turn, told it again to others (they did not designate the exalted Sun-Being as the Christ, but He was the Christ, and we may therefore be permitted today to use this name): The Christ is a Being Who shall never descend to the earth. You, however, dwelt in your pre-earthly existence, before descending to earth, within spiritual worlds in communion with the Christ. And the force of the Christ has given you the faculty of making your soul independent of the body.
This instinctive memory of a pre-earthly existence was lost through the soul's increasing identification with its physical body. And, in the Greek epoch, earthly man could employ his instinctive consciousness-forces only by looking at physical life. The Greek was able to live such a harmonious earth-life, because his outlook into the divine worlds of the spirit had faded away. He was so successful in subduing the sensible-physical that the spiritual vanished more or less from his life's horizon. No longer did civilized men have a consciousness of the fact that before descending to earth, they dwelt in the presence of the exalted Sun-Being Who was later called the Christ. Now darkness encompassed those who looked at pre-earthly, prenatal existence. And thus arose the mystery of death.
What happened henceforth must be envisaged as something concerning not only mankind but also the gods. The divine-spiritual powers who sent the human being down to earth gave him the impulses towards the development that I have just described. Since his spirit and soul became increasingly merged with the physical body; since, as it were, his spirit and soul became identical with the physical, and since, therefore, the mystery of death confronted also the spirit and soul, the divine-spiritual powers who had sent the human being down to earth were threatened with the danger that he might be lost to the gods, that his soul, as well as his body, might die.
Yet man would never have become a free, independent being, had he not grown into his body during this epoch. Man could only become free in evolution if his view of the pre-earthly was dimmed. He was obliged to stand on earth — totally forsaken, as it were — within his physical body's abode. Thus his independent ego could radiate and gleam up.
For this shining forth of the independent ego can be best accomplished by the human being entering completely into his physical body. When man grows upward into the worlds of spirit and soul, his ego retreats; he is being merged with the objective element of spirit and soul. Man could become a free ego-being only if given the impulse by the gods to merge himself more and more with his physical body. He was thus, however, confronted by the mystery of death; for the physical body was bound to be claimed by death.
Now, if man's vision had not been awakened in another way, all of mankind on earth would have become more and more convinced that the soul and physical body were both dying together. And, if nothing else had happened; if history had continued its course in a straight line, all of us today would have come to the common conviction that the soul as well as the body are doomed to be laid in the grave.
At this point, the divine-spiritual powers decided to send down on earth the exalted Sun-Being, the Christ, in order that men, who no longer had any knowledge of their communion with the Christ during pre-earthly existence, could gain consciousness of their communion with the Christ after He had descended on earth and had shared on Golgotha and in Palestine their human destiny in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The God descended into the earthly world at the moment of mankind's world historic evolution when men had lost their feeling of communion with the Sun-Being beyond the earthly world.
Why did the Christ come down on earth? Because human beings, having fought their way to the attainment of complete ego-consciousness, needed Him on earth. Men had to experience the presence of a victor, who could die and resurrect himself — be the vanquisher of death.
In the course of history, this mystery had to be set before mankind at a time when man, no longer able to look back into pre-earthly existence, was granted a view of his communion with the giver of man's immortality, with the Christ. It is a divine event, and not merely for mankind, that the Christ was sent down on earth from higher worlds. For the human race would have fallen away from the gods, had they not sent down upon earth the loftiest among them, in order that He undergo a human destiny, a human existence, thus interweaving a divine event with earthly-human events and mankind's entire world evolution.
The Mystery of Golgotha cannot be comprehended unless we regard it not only as a human event, but also as a divine event. The fact must be grasped that something which could be envisaged previously only in the divine worlds could now be envisaged in the earthly world.
Possibly you might raise the objection: Not all men have become followers of the Christ; many do not believe in the Christ. Must all these have the opinion that at death their soul would be laid in the grave with the body?
This, however, is not the way in which the Mystery of Golgotha may be interpreted. It is valid through all the centuries preceding ours that the Christ, in His infinite compassion overflowing with grace, died not only for His immediate followers, but for all men in all ages, everywhere on earth.
All men on earth have been redeemed from the riddle of death by the Christ. At first, this deed did not touch human consciousness. It is natural, however, that some men were found who could consciously grasp the grandeur and significance of the Mystery of Golgotha. Yet the Christ did die and did rise as much for the Chinese, Japanese, and Hindus as for the Christians.
Just because since the fifteenth century human evolution must increasingly regard intellectualism as its highest soul-force, and just because this intellectual impulse will become more and more powerful in the future, have we approached an epoch when it is incumbent upon the earth's entire population to grasp, with its ever growing consciousness, what was brought forth by the Mystery of Golgotha.
Thus it will become necessary that the Mystery of Golgotha be penetrated by a knowledge that can be really understood by all men on earth.
In preceding centuries, Christianity developed in a way that still conformed to the peculiarities of ancient ethnic religions. Christian development had not yet attained universality. The Christian missionaries who went among the followers of other religions found little or no understanding, because the Christ was presented as a separate god who had the same qualities as those possessed by the ancient heathen folk deities. This was the manner in which Christianity had been disseminated. Why had Constantine, why Chlodvig, accepted Christianity? — Because they believed that the Christian god would be a more powerful helper than their former gods. They exchanged, as it were, their former gods for the Christian god. Hence the Christ had to take on many qualities of the ancient folk deities. These qualities have adhered to the Christ through the centuries.
In this way, however, Christianity could not become a universal religion. On the contrary, it had to retreat more and more before intellectualism. And we have seen, particularly in the nineteenth century, many a theological development which understood nothing whatsoever of the Christ-event in its super-sensible aspect. Here the desire was to speak only of Jesus, the man, although conceding that as man he towered above all other men. Yet, henceforth, the desire was only to speak of Jesus, the man, and not of Christ, the God.
We must, nevertheless, be able to speak again of Christ, the God, because this Christ, while undergoing His destiny through the Mystery of Golgotha, manifested to men on earth what He had formerly signified to them, before they had descended to earth from the high heavens.
Hence, we must state that the ancient folk religions were primarily local religions. People prayed to the god of Thebes, to the god on Mount Olympus. They were local deities who could be worshipped only in near-by places. Thus, from the beginning, these ancient faiths were bound to certain territories.
Later the local gods, who had their abode in a definite spot, were replaced by gods bound to the personalities of single men, of the guiding folk heroes. Yet a people's god was either a still living folk hero or his surviving soul, the ancestral folk soul. All religious faiths had a restricted character.
With Christianity, however, there appeared a world religion which bestowed a spiritual element upon the whole earth, just as the sun bestows a physical element upon the whole earth. The climate in the vicinity of Mount Olympus is different from the climate in the vicinity of Thebes; the latter, in its turn, is different from the climate in the vicinity of Bombay. If a religious faith nestles close to a locality, it cannot spread beyond this locality. The sun, however, sheds its light on all the earth's localities, shines upon all men as the same sun.
When, however, the human form was taken on by that God Whose physical reflection shone forth in the sun's radiance, then the human race received a God who could be accepted as God by all men on earth. If the possibility is found of penetrating the being of this Christ-Divinity, we shall be able to represent Him as the God acceptable to all mankind. Today we stand only at the beginning of anthroposophical teachings. As it were, we are still stammering the language of Anthroposophy. Yet Anthroposophy will continue to develop more and more. And a part of this development will consist in its capability of finding words to describe the Mystery of Golgotha — words of a kind that spiritual science can bring to the Hindus, the Chinese, to all men on earth; and which will elucidate the Mystery of Golgotha in such a way that the Hindus, the Chinese, the Japanese will be unable to reject what is told them concerning the Mystery of Golgotha.
For this purpose, we must attach a genuinely serious significance to all that represents Christian tradition. Throughout the centuries, people have subjected themselves more or less to the words of the Gospels. They have studied these Gospels in a way commensurate with their understanding of these ancient books. We have certainly no intention of speaking against the validity of the Gospels. Our cycles on each of the Gospels attempt to penetrate, by means of special anthroposophical interpretation, into the deeper meaning of these Gospels. Yet one thing must be said: Why is the passage at the end of one Gospel taken so lightly? There it is written: 1 have still many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. And why are the words of another Gospel not taken more seriously: And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth-cycles? For the Christ spoke the full truth. He could have said to men other things than those recorded in the Gospels. Only those Christ-words are recorded in the Gospels, for the understanding of which the men of that epoch — few in number — were ready. But mankind must become more and more mature in the course of earthly evolution. From the Mystery of Golgotha on, the Christ dwelt among men as the Living Christ, and not as the dead Christ. And He is still present among us. If we learn to speak His language, we shall recognize His presence; we shall recognize the truth of His words: And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth-cycles. And the anthroposophical world view desires to speak His language, His spiritual language. The anthroposophical world view desires to speak in such a way of nature, of all the beings on earth, of the starry sky and the sun that, by means of this language, the Mystery of Golgotha may be understood; that the Christ may be experienced as the One Who is ever present.
And, also after the Mystery of Golgotha, we may regard as Christ-words all that we have gained from the spiritual world; aided by that power which, through the Mystery of Golgotha, descended from heaven to earth. If as men we speak of the spiritual worlds, we may make true the word of St. Paul: Not I, but the Christ in me. For today we have entered an age in which we cannot even emulate the Greeks who, although feeling themselves still at one with their physical body, yet felt this physical body as something harmonious and independent. Today we penetrate at a still earlier age than the Greeks into that which underlies our physical body, thus separating ourselves from the spiritual around us. We can deepen our being only by seeking the union with the God Who descended from heaven to earth. And we can feel ourselves united only with that God Who entered the earthly sphere, because men on earth could no longer enter the heavenly sphere with their immediate and ordinary consciousness. By finding the Christ, we also find anew the approach to the super-sensible world; not now, however, by means of the physical body (this was the case in ancient times), but by means of heightened soul-power. And today, when the parallelism between the development of body and soul lasts only up to the age of twenty (later on it will last a still shorter period), this heightened soul-power can be attained alone by immersing ourselves, in the midst of the sensible events of earthly evolution, into the knowledge of a super-sensible event: the Mystery of Golgotha. Everything on earth took place in a sensible way. Only in the Mystery of Golgotha something super-sensible mingled with earthly events. And this can be understood only out of a super-sensible knowledge.
Hence the union with the Christ awakens in our human souls the powerful faculty of attaining a relationship to the super-sensible world — a relationship formerly attained by human beings through being connected with their physical body in such a way that the body could become sheath-like. Thus, feeling the approach of death before physical death occurred, they merged themselves with the spirit prevailing in their surroundings.
We must attain by means of the soul what could be attained, in earlier days, through the mediation of the body. For, although we admire in the highest degree what has been preserved of Indian writings — which did not originate, however, from the earliest primeval Indian epoch, but from a later period — although we admire what has been bequeathed to us through the glory of the Vedas, the grandeur of the Vedanta-philosophy, the radiant splendor of the Bhagavad-Gita, we must, nevertheless, recognize the fact that this could be attained in ancient times only because the body reflected to the human being, as he grew older, a certain spirituality. Ancient man was compensated for the waning of his physical existence, which set in after the thirty-fifth year, by having, as it were, the spirit pressing out of his body, as the latter became hard, withered and wrinkled. And this spirit was perceived by the human being. The great philosophical poems of ancient times were not composed by youths, but by patriarchs who had acquired wisdom. It resulted from what was given by the body. In the present stage of human evolution, which differs from the ancient ones, we must receive from the soul, as it grows more powerful, what was formerly contributed by the body. Our body becomes old. We must remain united with it. We cannot let the spirit emerge from this body, because we have utilized it since early childhood.
If we did not do this, we could never be free men. This must be accepted as our rightful earthly destiny. One fact, however, must be made clear to us: Our soul has to gain strength. Since the spiritual strength formerly corresponding to the waning body flows to us no longer we must attain it by strengthening our soul through our own effort. And we shall experience this strengthening of the soul by looking, in a genuine and living way, toward a great and powerful event: The divine event that took place as the Mystery of Golgotha in the midst of earthly life. In beholding the Mystery of Golgotha and becoming conscious that its after-effect is still dwelling among us, is still existing in the spiritual-super-sensible sphere, our spirit and soul become strengthened and approach the spiritual world anew.
The Christ has descended to earth in order that men, who no longer see Him in heaven by means of their memory, may be permitted to see Him on earth. Seen from today's viewpoint, this is what rightly places the Mystery of Golgotha before our spiritual eye.
The disciples, who had preserved a remnant of ancient clairvoyance, could still have the Christ as their teacher when He dwelt among them after the resurrection in the spiritual body.
Yet this power gradually fell away from them. And its complete disappearance is symbolically represented through the Festival of the Ascension.
The disciples sank into profound sadness, because they were forced to believe that the Christ was no longer among them. They had taken part in the event of Golgotha. Now, however, they had to believe that the Christ had moved away from their consciousness, that the Christ was no longer on earth. Thus they were plunged into deep sorrow, for they had seen the Christ-figure disappear in the clouds, that is, move away from their consciousness.
But every genuine knowledge is born out of sorrow, of suffering, of grief. True, profound knowledge is never born out of joy. True, profound knowledge is born out of suffering. And out of the suffering, which encompassed the disciples of the Christ at the Festival of the Ascension, out of this deep soul-anguish arose the Mystery of Pentecost. The disciples could no longer view the Christ by means of their outer, instinctive clairvoyance. But the force of the Christ unfolded within them. The Christ had sent to them the spirit enabling their soul to experience the Christ-existence in their innermost depths.
This experience gave meaning to the first Festival of Pentecost occurring in human evolution. The Christ, Who had disappeared from the outer, clairvoyant view still clinging to the disciples as a heritage of ancient evolutionary periods, appeared at Pentecost within the disciples' inner experience. The fiery tongues signify nothing but the arising of the inner Christ in the souls of His pupils, the souls of the disciples. Out of inner necessity, the Festival of Pentecost had to follow the Festival of the Ascension.